Emblem3 is definitely growing on me. I'm not big on the group performances where everyone just jumps around and shouts, so I appreciated hearing each individual just sit and sing this time. They can carry tunes! Learning about the boys' "spiritual leaders" (man, kids are advanced these days) added some humanity to them as well; I'd previously been holding onto an impression of Drew in particular that pegged him as a bully whose own talent didn't warrant the dismissal of others in the same boat as him. (Not that talent should ever allow for that ANYWAY.) But now that he's built houses for Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic, I like him? God, I am so easy.
Drew's spiritual leader Sean was rocking out way harder than brothers Wes and Keaton's spiritual leader Ben during the trio's cover of OneRepublic's "Secrets." It's important that you know that. L.A. Reid thought this performance "lacked emotion," which is totally absurd because none of the other Emblem3 performances have been emotional. I mean, out of everything he could have possibly said in the entire world, he picked that? ANYTHING else would have made more sense. "You didn't sing well." "I don't like baseball caps with 'PLAY' emblazoned on them." Anything! It's like he's not even in the same time zone as the rest of the people on the red planet. Seriously.
Mario Lopez left Drew hanging! He made sure to let us know of his incredulous concern as he asked about it three times before commercials.
HOW CUTE was the conversation between Arin Ray and his brother Aris (?!) backstage? The older Aris was trying to act all tough, and Arin's eyes were darting all over the place as he thanked Aris for being there after their parents got divorced. "Seeing you here, everything I did, staying on you -- it paid off," Aris said as if realizing it right at that time. Whoa! Then their acknowledgment of how Arin would effectively be calling his older brother "Baby" during Enrique Iglesias' "Hero" was just funny. Awwww, brothers. Unfortunately Arin never achieved a big enough "moment" in a song that overpowered him, according to L.A. and Simon. Arin vigorously nodded when Simon complained that Arin wasn't getting to be himself.
"WHAT IS YOU?" demanded Khloe Kardashian. What Arin really wants it to be upbeat! "I wanna dance for you all," he promised. Will the 13-year-0ld in the techi-leather jacket earn the chance to dance again?
Ohhhhhh Leopard Face. I love you again. CeCe Frey finished "Wind Beneath My Wings" with two perfect tears streaming down her face, but I was already way ahead of her during the package about her sister Kelsey, who suffered from cerebral palsy and died on Christmas Eve at 6 years old. What really got me was their mom, tearing up while describing how Kelsey had very little control of her arms, yet would try her best to hold still while lying with her baby sister CeCe. Leopard Face always felt that Kelsey was there protecting her, all the way from the purple haze of heaven. Ugh, I was just a goner when she started singing. I have no idea how she hit any of the notes -- and to be fair she did not hit many in the first half of the song. Or the second half. But she's a trier! That's what Simon says.
At the time, I thought Britney's critique -- "It's really hard to critique someone when they're pouring their heart out like that. I just thought you were amazing." -- was a copout. And obviously it was, but as I'm recalling the performance I find myself wanting to give CeCe more credit for even remaining on her feet after that package. Oh, the drama! This is why Thanksgiving week should be a bye week, maybe. Or they could make it simple and vote out the person with the least amount of hardship in his or her life! (Khloe Kardashian.)
NEXT PAGE: Take me in, into Paige Thomas' darkest hour